• Jonathan Bloom writes about why we waste food, why it matters and what we can do about it. This is his blog.

Friday Buffet

The Wormdorf Astoria is now taking reservations. A Boca Raton man has created compact vermiculture method and named it creatively.

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Zéro Gâchis? My French is a little rusty, but I think it translates to ‘cool app.’

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Some big names are investing in food waste-to-energy companies.

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This just in from ConAgra, who illustrate that no detail is too small to consider, especially when you’re producing food on a large scale:

Plant leaders worked with Quality Assurance to determine that excess flour used to prevent dough from sticking to rollers could be repurposed. The new process will save 96.2 tons of safe flour from heading to a landfill annually.

April 13, 2012 | Posted in Energy, Friday Buffet, International, Vermiculture | Comments closed

An Awesome Infographic

Kudos to Door-to-Door Organics, for producing this awesome infographic! It really helps raise awareness on the issue food waste.



April 9, 2012 | Posted in General | Comments closed

Friday Buffet

ABC News weighs in with 5 Worst Food Storage Mistakes. While I don’t love the subtle tone of paranoia (4 days for leftovers?!) there’s some decent advice there.

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Cal Baptist seems to be awash in food waste reduction. There’s nothing revolutionary going on, but a refreshing commitment to minimizing waste.

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German Ministry of Agriculture and Consumer Protection aims to minimize food waste by raising awareness on what exactly expiration dates are: guidelines. And what they’re not: deadlines. Amen!

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Great to hear about the Second Servings program at the Univ. of South Carolina. When the Food Recovery Hall of Fame opens, Chase Mizzell’s bow tie will be on display.

April 6, 2012 | Posted in College, Food Safety, Friday Buffet, Household, International | Comments closed

Technology to the Rescue?

Love Food, Hate Waste.

Love Technology, Hate Waste?

One question that keeps coming up in my world is whether technology and/or the web can reduce food waste. Certainly, both can, but how?

There’s AmpleHarvest.org, the backyard produce-to-food bank search aid. And then there’s Zero Percent, a site to help restaurants reduce waste via donations or deals. A recent Forbes article touched on the tech topic. And I wrote about it a while back. But I have a sense that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

In 5 or 10 years, the answers on how technology will help avoid food waste will seem obvious (and I have a sense that tech will be implicit in all future waste reduction). But for now there are only guesses. What’s yours?

April 4, 2012 | Posted in Technology | Comments closed

Student Input

I recently spoke to an engaged food studies class at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC). The course, known as Eats 101, is an honors seminar on food and culture in the program in Food, Agriculture and Sustainable Development.

After talking about food waste for a bit, I asked the students for their ideas on reducing waste. Since their answers were so sharp and this was at a public university, I thought it only fair to share their ideas. Here are some highlights, organized by subject area and without editorial comment from yours truly.

Farm

  • Grow less
  • Form better relationships with more people to sell directly to them
  • Create a local need database to link farmers with the needy. (This sort of exists with Ample Harvest)
  • Rebuff Farm Lobby so US Ag policy doesn’t only focus on commodity crops
  • Improve irrigation technology (minimizing the impact of food waste)

Supermarket

  • Avoid visible “sell-by” dates to minimize confusion with “use-by” dates.
  • Reduced prices for imperfect goods and items near their “sell-by” date
  • Institute a reward system for buying these goods
  • Move away from the idea that a store can never run out of anything
  • Cut down on choices/# of items

Restaurant

  • Serve fewer menu items and aim to use similar foods in apps and mains
  • Be seasonal and local (to avoid shipment and kitchen shelf loss)
  • Offer choice of small, medium and large portions
  • Don’t be afraid to run out of food–it seems more exclusive!
  • Market food waste reduction efforts
  • Give discount for bringing own leftover container

Household

  • Plan meals ahead and make a shopping list
  • Use the entire animal, whenever possible
  • Hold neighborhood leftover potlucks–other people aren’t sick of your leftovers!
  • Create neighborhood listserv for sharing excess food/ingredients
  • Write a recipe book for creative reuse of foods
  • Redistribute on the run–make two sandwiches in the morning and give one to someone in need.
April 2, 2012 | Posted in College | Comments closed

Friday Buffet

Big news from NYT’s Green Blog: An international report from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change addresses food waste as one of its seven recommendations:

Reduce loss and waste in food systems, targeting infrastructure, farming practices,
processing, distribution and household habit

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Every so often I see reports on food waste-to-energy installations like the Muckbuster (great name!). Could somebody just come out with the Mr. Fusion trash-powered car already?

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Michigan State may not be in the Final Four, but they’re conducting a waste audit

March 30, 2012 | Posted in General | Comments closed

Beautiful Decay

Rotting food still lifes, anyone? For those so inclined, Austrian photographer Klaus Pichler has created that very thing with his latest project, One Third.

The one third refers to the amount of food worldwide that isn’t consumed, according to the FAO.  Pichler decided to point attention to the global issue of food waste by showing food being…wasted.

The series shows food in various forms of decay. In a way, the images visually stunning. Yet the portrayal of waste–given the actual squandering on display–can be hard to view.

Some of the photographs are nauseating. And others are downright spooky. But, on the whole, they do make us think.

March 28, 2012 | Posted in Food Safety, International | Comments closed

Bi Into This Challenge

With Earth Day fast approaching, the good people at Bi-Rite Market have issued a challenge. A Food Waste Challenge.

Here’s how it works: Leave a comment on the Bi-Rite blog post on the food that you or your community often wastes. Then, the San Fran retailer will identify foods that are often wasted.

Bi-Rite will then strive to help people trim waste of these “target foods” by distributing recipes–in store and hopefully online–for using these foods up. It’s a neat example of a grocer helping its customers curb waste.

So now’s your chance: Tell the gastronomic gurus at Bi-Rite what you have a hard time using up and they’ll provide some handy ideas.

HT: I heard about the challenge from this handy Kitchn post on the topic, which features it’s own useful top 5 list on using up food often discarded.

March 26, 2012 | Posted in Household, Supermarket | Comments closed

UNusual Week

I just spent three days at the Rome headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, where I met people from all corners of the globe and talked trash (or food waste) with them.

I was at FAO to collaborate with researchers in an ongoing project to create a global food waste footprint. As you might imagine, cataloguing all the ways food waste impacts our environment won’t be easy. There are the familiar impacts like energy use and methane creation, but also some less discussed ones like biodiversity and water impacts.

The main reason for the trip was a series of meetings to hash out how to calculate the actual food waste footprint. The research team met with FAO researchers in various fields in an effort to consider food waste from every angle. I was there partly to help think through these questions, but also as the person who will be involved in future writings for this project.

Some interesting questions arose:

-Should the resources used to create packaging of food ultimately wasted be included?

-Can we capture the small amount of positive end-of-life outcomes for waste like food recovery, composting and anaerobic digestion?

-What do we do when there isn’t available data for a certain crop or country?

-What do we even call this stuff? To be inclusive of all food not consumed, there’s food waste and food loss. Is there a term for both? Can we use them synonymously? Or do we have to use the unwieldy food loss/waste every turn?

In the coming months, we’ll create answers for these questions and work toward a finished product so that one of these days policy makers, policy wonks, journalists and all in between will be able to say: Food waste’s impact is THIS big!

March 23, 2012 | Posted in Energy, Environment, Personal | Comments closed

Public Service Announcement

Just a quick reminder, folks: You can trim the mold off cheese! I highly recommend it, especially for a variety as delicious as Dill Havarti.

Before.

After. (Mmm...cheese)

March 19, 2012 | Posted in Food Safety, Household, Personal | Comments closed
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